Ok so getting these two to talk about themselves and step into the spotlight is like pulling teeth, but sometimes the Marketing Manager has to pull rank (lol).
I think it is nice to meet and know more about the people that you are potentially doing business with. I asked Merv and Glenise to answer a few questions to share a bit more about themselves and their business. Existing clientele already know these two are pretty damn nice human beings (and I am not just saying that because I work for them). Here’s what Merv & Glenise had to say when asked (ahem! forced) to get on board with this idea:
How long have you been in the catering game for?
We bought the business back in 2009, so we are in our 8th year. Part of the deal in buying a catering business is that we would only do so if the existing staff stayed on. We still have some of the staff (Willie and Alma) from the early days and they are the backbone of the company. We’ve learnt a lot about catering over the last 8 years and while we can do most things I can’t compete with these guys!
What did you both do before working in the catering industry?
Glen had a clerical background and was working in school administration when we bought the business and worked part time in the business but after a while decided to work full time on it. I was a qualified Accountant but gave that up back in the 1990’s and had been working in Property Management before I moved to Catering. Property Management was a fascinating job and I worked for a couple of great organisations but had always wanted to work for myself.
What is the best part about what you do?
Working with our crew! You know what I think about our staff – it’s a dream working with them and they’ve learnt to put up with me. It is absolutely magic the way they have such a team culture and look after each other – I’ve never seen team dynamics quite like it.
- Working with our clients – We all enjoy the client contact side of the business – helping them work out what they really want and then finding the best menu to suit. And we’ve found that almost without exception our clients are magic! We’ve met many delightful people from a wide range of ages, backgrounds, races etc but when people want to party it doesn’t matter if you’re a young bride on her most special day or an 80 year old having a Birthday party with friends you’ve known for ever. We have met very very few clients who have been a pain to deal with.
- Monday mornings! That’s when we get feedback from clients we catered for in the previous week and over the weekend!
- Love going to gigs and seeing the client (particularly the Mother of the Bride!) relax once they see our crew swing into action. It really is a thrill to see a client relax and start to enjoy the party.
- We made a decision a few years ago that we weren’t going to be late for any jobs – this means that sometimes we turn down jobs if we think there is a chance that we may be a bit stretched and this’ll make us late on another job. Since then we have been late on very very few jobs (count them on one hand) and even then it has only been by a matter of a few minutes – I can’t remember the last time we were late getting the meal onto the buffet tables in time. I still get a thrill hitting that target – and it is so much more relaxing being on time.
- Playing around with our menus – we’re always tinkering with our menus as we find new ways to keep them fresh or find better ways of doing things. We always try out new ideas on ourselves in the kitchen – they don’t always work and we don’t think clients make good guinea pigs. (Our staff – particularly Alma and Willie are very much a part of this process and both have come up with magic ideas.)
What is your least favourite thing about what you do?
Talking about ourselves! But sometimes you have to, just to get your marketing person to leave you alone! (You asked for that one Jodie!). Seriously – anything that takes me away from doing points 1 to 6 above. (Did anyone mention paperwork?)
Why do you think so many of your customers come back again and again?
I think there are a few reasons for this.
- Most caterers do provide pretty good food (if they don’t they don’t survive!) but I seriously think that our staff are what keeps our clients coming back for more (the food helps of course!) And I think we have pretty good overall package with our staff and the service we provide.
- Our belief is that keeping things simple for the client takes a weight off their shoulders. We have a deliberate policy of keeping things simple – take our pricing structure for example. Usually it’s simply number of guests times the menu price and that’s it! No add-ons for crockery plates, buffet tables, staff, no premium for lamb etc. We include all that in our price and that’s it. We do have a few optional extras and we tell clients about this when they first enquire – we promise them no surprises and no costs that they don’t agree to first (eg Travel, Bar staff, vegetarian meals etc).
- We also respect our clients – we may not agree with some of their beliefs about food or dietary restrictions but that is their right and it’s one we respect. Also we believe that clients have the right to expect discretion – we never talk about our clients or their events. We may tell someone we had a great gig last week but we never tell them who it was. EG we had a client last week (repeat customer) and they have this awesome culture with the staff being so friendly and helpful to us. While we admire (and enjoy that) we won’t tell you who the client was.
What’s your secret to working well together day in day out?
This one cracked us up! Glen and I have been married for 34 years and we’re still working on that one 😉 All we can say is that as time goes by it just keeps getting better and better.
You spend all day (and sometimes night) making food for others, what do you guys like to eat when you are off duty?
Hmmm – we both enjoy what we call honest food – we don’t go in for processed food and like to cook with fresh ingredients whenever we can. We do eat a lot of salads, enjoy fish regularly and aren’t much into sweets. Glen is keen on Organic food and while we do not eat all organic food we do try avoid anything which has a lot of additives or preservatives. We both hate sugar – we use very little at home and are mystified as to why sugar is added to everything (try and buy a chilli sauce which doesn’t have sugar in it. The very best food of course is that eaten with friends – and we have friends who are good cooks – and good company.
What do you two like to do when you aren’t making yummy food?
Believe it or not we both enjoy cooking at home – either just for ourselves or for friends. You’ll never see either of us on Masterchef though! Apart from that Glen is a keen gardener (my idea of the perfect garden is a beer garden). We live out of town a bit on a beach and we both enjoy walking – round the coastline or up in the hills. Living at the beach we do have a boat (just a small one) and both enjoy fishing and we also have a motorbike and enjoy getting out on that – alas both the bike and boat aren’t used often enough – but there is always next year. Our job makes us pretty unsocial over the Summer season so we catch up with friends more over the winter. Both avid readers and we can spend a lot of time in companionable silence each enjoying a good book.